Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star
- Children & Youth
- Education & Literacy
Location450 E. John Carpenter FreewayIrving, TX 75062 United States
Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star, headquartered in Irving, Texas and with regional offices throughout West Central Texas, North Texas and the Greater Houston area (including in Abilene, Bay Area, Baytown, Collin County, Dallas, Denton, Houston, Stafford, Stephenville, Tarrant County, Wichita Falls and The Woodlands) serves approximately 6,000 children each year--each with his or her own Mentor/Big Brother/Big Sister. Following the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Standards of Practices, BBBS Lone Star operates four core one-to-one mentoring programs: Community Based Mentoring, School or Site Based Mentoring, mentor2.0 and our new e-Mentoring program.
Big Brothers Big Sisters' Traditional Mentoring Programs:
At the center of Big Brothers Big Sisters' traditional mentoring program are one-to-one relationships, with each mentor (a "Big Brother" or "Big Sister") spending time with his/her mentee (a "Little Brother" or "Little Sister") each week-at least twice each month. BBBS has developed an array of program options (briefly described below) to best engage volunteer mentors and the students who need them.
Littles are typically ages 7 to 14 at enrollment, though 6 year olds may be considered (especially if an older sibling is being matched), and high school students are targeted as "Littles" in some partnerships. Once matched, Bigs and Littles are encouraged to remain together until the Little graduates from high school or turns 18 (whichever is last). However, if the match wishes to remain in the BBBS program, and if the young adult "Little" is pursuing his/her educational goals, a match may stay "active" through age 21.
Community-Based (CB) Mentoring - The "classic" mentoring model, where the volunteer Big goes to the child's home and takes the child into the community (to libraries, sporting or cultural events, the mall, the park, etc.) in order to spend time together. In a CB program, the child's parent(s)/guardian(s) joins the match relationship-participating in the enrollment interview and monthly match support contacts.
Most volunteers serve as a Community-Based "Big" individually, however our "Big Couple" and "Big Family" expand the experience by involving the volunteer's spouse/partner and/or own children as active participants in the match. Big Couples and Big Families typically are matched with Little Brothers ages 11 and younger.
School/Site-Based (SB) Mentoring - Similar to the Community-Based program, except that all contact occurs, with school personnel consent and support, during the school day at the Little's school. Mentors often eat lunch with their mentee or the match will "hang out" in the school's library, gym, computer lab or other designated space. A "School-Based" program happens at a school. A "Site-Based" program happens at a designated and supervised non-school location, such as at a Boys and Girls Club site, a city library, etc.
While parental involvement in a School/Site-Based match is not as intense as in a Community Based match (not requiring a parent interview, for example), a parent/guardian must give signed, written consent for their child to participate in the program, and participation in match support contacts at least three times a year is required.
School-Based matches may become "School Plus" matches if desired-giving the match permission to have additional contacts (once or twice a month) outside of the school setting. (Away-from-school contact always starts and ends at the child's home. A Big is never to take his/her Little from the school/site location.) For a School Plus match to happen, the Little's parent/guardian must be interviewed and agree to participate in monthly match support contacts.
* "High School Bigs" - A "School-Based" program involving high school students, ages 16 and older, to serve as mentors. Typically Teen Bigs programs match students from high school classes (such as AVID or PAL) with 2nd-5th graders at a neighboring elementary school. BBBS staff actively provide additional supervision and support to these programs, as both the Littles and Teen Bigs are viewed as beneficiaries of the experience.
* "Faith Based Mentoring Partnerships" - Our faith-based partnerships, such as the one with churches called "Big Hope," connect a church/congregation to a local elementary or middle school via a School Based mentoring program. Church leadership provides mentor recruitment and school/volunteer support, while BBBS staff provide professional volunteer and child enrollment and match support services.
* "Beyond School Walls" (BSW) - This initiative is a site-based mentoring program in reverse, as BBBS brings groups of students to a partner's workplace, allowing each mentor/mentee match to spend time together in the corporate (or similar) setting. BSW programs can meet during the day (often over lunch) or immediately after school.
* "Generations" - Like with BSW, "Generations" brings groups of students from their elementary school to a local retirement center, allowing students to be mentored by residents there. BBBS staff provide on-site supervision and support, as well as transportation from and back to the students' school
Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star's Non-Traditional Mentoring Programs:
mentor2.0 uses structured email exchanges to enhance the match relationship between adult mentors and high school student mentees. Emails and once-per-grading period in-person group events follow an established curriculum focused on helping the high school 9th-12th grader do well in school, as well as on college preparation and career exploration. This model involves entire classrooms of students at a school, as each student has his/her own mentor-writing back and forth to one another each week, ideally for all four years of high school. The program currently operates in Dallas (New Tech high school), Irving (Irving High School), Tarrant County (Grapevine/Colleyville ISD's Collegiate Academy on the TCC NE campus and the Young Women's Leadership Academy in Fort Worth) and Houston (The Heights High School and KIPP Northeast Preparatory).
BBBS' new e-Mentoring program has been created to connect youth and mentors virtually. In this program, mentors and mentees, with parent/guardian support and involvement, are asked to connect virtually each week and log into BBBS of America's monitored communication platform ("The App") at least twice a month, as well. In-person contact between youth and their mentor is NOT allowed in an e-Mentoring match.
While initially developed as a COVID-19 program modification to allow currently-matched youth to continue to receive the benefits of mentoring while under "stay home stay safe" recommendations, e-Mentoring has proven to be a viable mentoring model. The new program follows each of the critical success factors found in other BBBS programs, with its enrollment and match support practices following those of BBBS of America's Standards of Practice for Community Based matches. e-Mentoring also enables youth to have a mentor despite roadblocks of time, distance and local volunteer availability.
This program model is being added as a fourth core mentoring model by BBBS affiliates across the country.
NOTE: During COVID-19 BBBS and our partners are taking precautions to keep everyone safe. Many of our matches - even our school based ones (with parent/guardian consent) are connecting virtually when students are doing school from home. Each match and individual is called to evaluate their own circumstances and are asked to work together to pursue their match relationship in ways that are both effective and safe. FURTHERMORE, BBBS has shifted all of its volunteer and child enrollment processes to be online, so "stay home stay safe" and social distancing guidelines do not keep new applicants from being accepted, processed and matched. The mission continues!
Mentors do not have to be geniuses, rich or anything else super human. They simply must have a heart to become a sincere, faithful adult friend to a child/student, and encourage time/availability to make sure they are able to spend adequate time for the new mentoring relationships to start and mature. The impact of mentoring come as a product of safe, strong relationships that last (at least 12 months), so volunteers are asked to meet those expectations.
Volunteer mentors must be at least 16 years old. Those in high school must have parent/guardian consent to enroll in the program and typically they serve as part of a group School Based partnership with their high school, mentoring 2-4 times a month throughout their Junior and Senior years of high school.
Adult volunteers serve in our Community Based, School/Site Based and mentor2.0 mentoring programs. Mentors in Community and School/Site Based programs are typically ages 18 and older. They agree to meet in person with their Mentee at least twice a month (ideally once each week) for at least a full 12 months. mentor2.0 Mentors must themselves have a college degree. mentor2.0 volunteers write their high school-aged Mentees each week during the school year, starting when their Mentee is a high school freshmen and ending when the student graduates from high school. Mentors also agree to meet in person with their Mentees once a month throughout the school year, during preset events at the students' schools. e-Mentoring program volunteers must be at least 18 years old.
Volunteer Mentors must agree to participate in the full Big Brothers Big Sisters enrollment process, including national, layered criminal background checks (conducted prior to becoming a mentor and then annually thereafter); reference checks (including any prior youth-service) and in-person interview/assessment. Volunteers must also complete all volunteer pre-match training before being introduced to their Mentees.